Anita Binayifaal ’13 Awarded New York Intellectual Property Law Association’s Hon. Giles S. Rich Diversity Scholarship


Anita Binayifaal ’13 came to St. John’s knowing that she wanted to merge her interests in science and the law to pursue a career as an Intellectual Property (IP) attorney. By the end of her second year, she had earned a strong academic record, including membership on the St. John’s Law Review, and become an active member of the Law School’s Intellectual Property Law Club and Asian Pacific American Law Student Association.

Continuing on her emergent career path, Anita accepted a summer associate position at Kenyon & Kenyon, LLP, a preeminent IP law firm with clients across the globe. Adding to Anita’s impressive achievements, this past June, Dean Michael A. Simons awarded her the New York Intellectual Property Law Association’s (NYIPLA) Hon. Giles S. Rich Diversity Scholarship.

Each year, NYIPLA selects one law school from a pool of applicants to receive this $10,000 scholarship. The law school then awards the scholarship to one of its students on the recommendation of its IP faculty and based on the following criteria:

  • Expressed interest in pursuing a career in intellectual property law
  • Status as a minority student who represents a group that has been traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession
  • Academic eligibility adhering to the law school’s standard internal merit-based scholarship requirements

“Anita brings a wealth of enthusiasm for, and tremendous potential in, the IP field,” said Dean Simons. “With her background in the sciences and personal history of immigration and success as a multilingual student, she is an outstanding choice for NYIPLA’s Diversity Scholarship. St. John’s is very proud to have been this year’s scholarship recipient and very grateful to the NYIPLA and the scholarship selection committee for their recognition and generosity.”

Law School Communications Director Lori Herz talked with Anita about this special honor and opportunity:

LH: You graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Pharmacology from Stony Brook University and then worked as a scientist, as a research analyst and as a law firm translator. What brought you to law school as a next step?

AB: I found working as a scientist after college to be a great time to reflect on my future desires. Although I loved being a scientist, I realized that I was not content being confined solely to a laboratory. While I was working, I also got to meet with some of the company's patent attorneys, who were St. John’s School of Law graduates. After meeting with them, I was convinced that patent law was for me, and that I would not be satisfied until I pursued my passion for law too.

LH: How has St. John’s fostered your interest in IP Law and why does this practice area interest you?

AB: Science and law have always been two of my passions. The great thing about patent law is that it not only allows me to have a vital role in the promotion of scientific development, but it also permits me to bridge my two passions and intersect them. The Law School’s IP faculty has great knowledge of the IP field and is always available to meet with students to advise and guide us in pursuing an IP career. In addition, the IP classes I have taken have been wonderful as I have found them truly enjoyable and they have further confirmed my interest in IP law.

LH: Do you have any Law School faculty mentors?

AB: All the professors I have taken in my IP classes have been wonderful mentors for me. That is what I find is great about St. John’s. My first IP professor was Professor Subotnik, who taught Introduction to Intellectual Property. She was always available to meet with me outside class hours to advise me about future classes to take and introduce me to other IP faculty members. In addition, last semester, I had Professor Gagliano for Drafting IP Licenses and Professor Varadarajan for Patent Law. Although the class was initially full, Professor Gagliano was very kind to allow me to enroll. I have already been able to apply material taught from his class to my summer associate position. Professor Varadarajan’s class was one of the most enjoyable classes I have taken as her lectures were very interactive and she made any difficult topic within patent law easily understandable. Outside the IP faculty, Professor Facciolo, my former legal writing professor, has been a great mentor. He is always willing to meet with me, to listen to my questions or concerns, and to advise and guide me. 

LH: Did any aspect of your personal history influence or compel your decision to go to law school and practice law?

AB: From a young age, I became interested in law because of my family’s background. When I was two years old, my family and I became political refugees after my parents voiced their opinion against the government. We were forced to leave our country and we were sent by the UN to live in Norway. To me, the study of law is about being able to express and voice your opinions freely; an opportunity my parents never had.

LH: You’re fluent in Farsi and Norwegian and proficient in Swedish and Danish. Do you think being multilingual has helped you/will help you on your career path to IP law practice?

AB: In today’s global world with increasingly diverse clients, I definitely believe that there are advantages to being multilingual. Being multilingual allows me not only to interact with different clients, but also to be a more open-minded person, who is ready to listen and learn from others.

LH: NYIPLA presents the Hon. Giles S. Rich Diversity Scholarship to “a minority student who represents a group that has been traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession.” What do you carry forward from this particular acknowledgement and honor?

AB: It’s truly an honor to have been selected for this scholarship. To be recognized in the field that I wish to pursue means a lot to me. In the future I am determined to help and encourage other minority students who are thinking of pursuing a career in law. I also hope to promote the field of IP law, particularly patent law, a practice area in which minority students have traditionally been underrepresented.

LH: Thank you, Anita, and best of luck in your IP endeavors.